Create a Website Account - Manage notification subscriptions, save form progress and more.
Show All Answers
While regulations and requirements vary, generally you will need a building permit for most projects. This includes remodeling work and exterior work such as roofing, siding, decks, swimming pools, sheds, detached garages, and temporary structures. Work that does not require permits is limited to paint, wallcoverings, flooring and cabinetry. While ordinary repairs can normally be done without a permit, most electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work will require a special permit before it can be undertaken. It is best to check with the Building Inspection Department to see if a building permit is required before starting any project that involves construction. Fences under 7 feet and landscaping generally do not need permits.
To get a building permit, you will need to file a completed building permit application along with any required documentation. Our permits are all on-line with a link from the Town of Portsmouth website. Documentation that may be required includes plans of the proposed construction, site plan and approved septic plans. In addition, other necessary written approvals may be required from other town or state agencies such as the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), local utility companies, the fire department, and the zoning board. The types of documentation you need to file depends on the nature of your proposed project and local building regulations.
Yes, a homeowner can work on their house. The house must be their legal primary residence, not a rental home. They must sign an affidavit to take responsibility for the work to be performed. They must obtain a permit for the work and have the required inspections.
The State of Rhode Island does require some contractors to be licensed by the state, such as electricians and plumbers, while general contractors or their companies do not need to be licensed but must be registered. The Building Inspection Department can provide more information on what licenses your contractor should have.
There are no set fee for a building permit. Instead, the total cost of your permit is normally calculated based on the cost of the project, with a $66.00 minimum cost.
Yes, some additional fees are:
1. Fire Department plan review of $75.00.
2. Soil bond based on the soil erosion and sediment control plan - $3,000+ (refundable)
3. Impact fee - $3,190 per bedroom (first bedroom - no charge)
Anyone who receives Standard Offer Service electricity supply from National Grid is eligible for automatic enrollment in the program’s standard product. This typically includes the vast majority of residents and small businesses in a municipality.
If you have already selected your own electricity supplier other than National Grid, you may join the program but you will not be eligible for automatic enrollment.
When soliciting bids for an energy supplier, having more expected participating residents and businesses in the program will allow bidders to offer a larger discount on their bid rates. Using an “Opt-In” program would result in a much smaller number of participating residents and businesses than an “Opt-Out” program and would likely result in a higher bid price.
Factoid: If you look at your energy bill, you'll find that National Grid has already "opted you in" to an energy supplier that they have negotiated with already. You can "opt-out" of this National Grid selected supplier if you wish and contract with a supplier of your own. (see the next FAQ)
You certainly can and many residents and businesses have negotiated their own supplier agreements. But, aggregating a customer base by the Town provides for a more powerful market that will likely result in a lower price for the program.
The standard product is the program’s electricity supply, which has been negotiated through a competitive process, in which, under ans aggregation program, eligible residents and business would be automatically enrolled, unless you select an optional product in the program or elect to opt-out of the program.
The program’s proposed standard product has twin goals of 1) costing the same or less than National Grid’s Standard Offer Service supply and 2) including additional renewable energy, above the State of RI’s minimum requirements.
For background, the State of RI requires every electricity supply to have a minimum amount of renewable energy. In 2021, that amount will be about 18%. By 2035, that requirement will increase to about 38%. Based on the way the Town plan is currently written, we expect the standard product will have an extra 10% renewable energy. In 2021, this would mean that the standard product would have a total of 28% renewable energy.
The plan includes three optional products, designed with varying levels of renewable energy.
“Basic” – This includes just the State of RI’s minimum renewable energy
“Local Green 50%” – adds 50% renewable energy
“Local Green 100%” – adds 100% renewable energy
Often, the longer the agreement term the better price could be offered. It is expected the Town would receive bids for terms of 1, 2 or 3 years. Longer terms would result in more risk if energy prices fall but also would "lock in" a rate if energy prices rise.. The Town, working with its energy consultant, would conduct an analysis of long-term energy forecast to determine the best contract term and price.
You would not be eligible for automatic enrollment in the program, but you could elect to join the program voluntarily. We would recommend that you check the specific contract you signed before considering joining the Town’s program. Different contracts have different termination clauses and you would have to examine your individual contract. One option would be that, after the termination of your current contract, you could opt into the Town’s program.
No, incentives for solar panels, like net metering or the Renewable Energy Growth program, will continue unchanged.
On June 22, 2020, the Town Council directed the Town Administrator to come up with a plan. The plan is available for review at https://www.portsmouthri.com/1619/Energy-Aggregation . A public hearing was conducted on August 11, 2020 by the Portsmouth Town Council Zoom meeting. Hearing minutes are posted at www.portsmouthri.com. The plan was approved to be sent to RI Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Upon PUC approval, the Town would solicit suppler bids, conduct a public education campaign and ultimately sign an energy supply contract. The contract would take effect on the next energy bill. Due to COVID delays the PUC filing was delayed and is expected to be heard by the PUC in August 2021.
The proposed plan DOES NOT change electric service companies. Under the plan National Grid REMAINS in charge of all the wires and equipment that supplies electricity to your home. The ONLY thing that the plan changes is that it allows the town to bid on the SOURCE of your electrical supply. Right now National Grid PICKS THAT SUPPLIER FOR YOU. You now have the option to shop for your own supplier. In the Plan, the Town, by RI State Law, is allowed to band together as a group of potential customers to gain a much better electric rate than National Grid can get. The August 11 public hearing was ONLY to submit the Town plan to the RI Public Utilities Commission for review. After the PUC approves the Plan, our expert consultant will help us craft a Request for Proposals, to go out to "bid" for electricity supply and then there are additional public hearings to review and approve the final plan. Your Electric Service Company will remain as National Grid under ANY final CCA plan. Even after the final plan is approved, each residence will be provided a post card, web site and phone number to "Opt Out" of the plan and return either to the National Grid designated provider or you can switch to your own chosen power provider.
Providence, Barrington, Central Falls and South Kingstown issued a joint RFP in November 2019. All bid documents, including competitive proposals, were made available to aid in the consideration of a consultant. This included the Professional Services Agreement signed with Providence. There is no direct cost to the Town for these consultant services and no obligation or termination fee if the Town determines not to continue this relationship until the Program signs an agreement with a Competitive Supplier.
All payments to Good Energy are made from the Competitive Supplier consistent with the terms of our agreement with them and subsequent contract for electricity supply services. The Town has agreed to include a $0.001 per kWh fee to be included if the Town chooses a Competitive Supplier. Current National Grid data indicates that Portsmouth customers on Standard Offer service used 70,470,148 kWh in the previous 12 months ending June 2020 . 85% of this load would equate to an annual payment from the Competitive Supplier to Good Energy in the amount of $59,900.
The Town desires to be pro-active in investigating any program that may benefit the residents. The Town has followed every procedural step required by State law to develop an aggregation plan, as described in Attachment 1 of the Plan. This public hearing, in advance of submitting the plan to the PUC for further review, is the next step in that procedure. The PUC held its required public hearing on Aug 11, 2021 on the plan and is in the process of determining whether to approve the plan. After that the Town may begin the process of developing and issuing a bid for suppliers. The public will be fully informed on a continuing basis at every step of the process. The Town may choose to withdraw from the process without penalty or cost. But, in order to determine the potential cost savings available to our residents and small businesses, we need to have a plan approved by the PUC.
The PUC has not answered this question. Even before the PUC would take up the question, such a change would be at the sole discretion of the Town Council.
There is no need to add staff to manage this program.
There has been no identified costs from any department or funding requested of the Council for the development and implementation of this program. As part of its response to the RFP issued by Barrington, Central Falls, Providence and South Kingstown, Good Energy attested to having no financial interest in any renewable or conventional electricity generation.
The program description includes all provisions required by State law. The PUC will be conducting such a review in open meeting to assure that the plan meets these requirements. In previous Council meetings there has been discussion of potential risks to consumers, including that the program cannot guarantee cost savings compared to Standard Offer Service from National Grid. There has been no identified need for taxpayer funding for the execution of the program.
Every single one of Good Energy’s 200+ aggregations since 2012 have resulted in their clients saving money on electricity supply costs. The quality of a program is directly related to the quality of the consultant. If a CCA program, designed as envisioned by the Portsmouth draft Aggregation Plan, failed or was abandoned, the result would be that all electricity consumers participating in the plan would be returned to Standard Offer Service with National Grid. The draft Aggregation Plan includes procedures for notifying National Grid about a termination, how the Competitive Supplier and National Grid will cooperate to transition customers, and how customers will be notified. Portsmouth has not conducted a study of failed CCA programs in the United States.
Portsmouth, at all times, retains the right to bid independently. There is no need to enter any formal agreement with Providence to have a Competitive Supplier bid on the opportunity to meet the supply needs of both municipalities. Decision making for any group procurement like this is made via consensus. Importantly, while we will have the option of choosing the same supplier as Providence, there is no obligation to do so.
No Town funds, beyond currently budgeted staff time, are needed to develop and implement this program.
No. Good Energy is organized as a limited partnership under the laws of Delaware. Such organizations are prohibited by Rhode Island law from contributing to political campaigns.
Portsmouth staff is experienced at providing oversight and management of Town programs. In the draft plan, the Town Council designates the Town Administrator and his staff to administer the program. The Town has chosen an experienced consultant to assist in developing the plan, securing regulatory approval, procuring electricity supply and performing management activities such as customer service. The consultant will provide the Town staff with data and analysis needed to facilitate decision making by the Town Administrator and Town Council.
There is no direct cost to the town. The consultant, Good Energy, will be compensated at a rate of $0.001/kWh, to be paid by the chosen electricity supplier directly to the consultant. The Town may terminate its agreement with the consultant at any time without penalty.
The exact differential for the various product option is difficult to estimate at this point. As the town develops its bid strategy, it will research the market an arrive a set of cost goals that will be acceptable for bids.
The draft plan has four products, one of which is the standard product into which eligible accounts would be automatically enrolled. The other three products are optional products in which any customer could voluntarily enroll. The goal of the standard product is to cost the same or less than National Grid Standard Offer Service and to have a small amount of additional (extra) renewable energy, above the current state minimums.
Extra renewable energy is in reference to the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which sets a minimum amount of renewable energy that must be included in all electricity supplies, regardless of whether it is provided by the utility, National Grid, or a competitive supplier. In 2021, the RES will require 17.5% renewable energy. For example, if the standard product includes 10% additional renewable energy, the total renewable energy will be 17.5%+10%=27.5%.
(? continued) Let me suggest that at least a 10% savings over current and projected National Grid consumer (without CCA) pricing will be needed to make the program attractive and that this may not be possible with extra renewable energy. If we save 1% and have extra administrative costs, I think this a silly exercise unless it is a veiled attempt to move the town to more renewable energy with no savings.
At the time the Town is ready to go out to bid, we expect that the Town will have determined some parameters and minimum goals for bid rates that would result in savings that would be acceptable for the term of the contract and would reject any offers that do not fall within the acceptable parameters that have been approved by the Town Council.
As stated in the answer to the question above, the citizens and Town Council would be involved in discussing and approving a set of bid parameters that would be acceptable before the bid process moves forward. The Town would always retain the option to reject any and all bids and wait for a better market or decide to abandon the program altogether.
Community Electricity Aggregation is an electricity supply program organized by the City and Town Councils of the participating communities. The program provides residents and businesses with new, City/Town-vetted options for electricity supply. The program was authorized by the Town Council in 2020. After a public review period, the Town Council approved the Plan for the program in August 2020. Finally, the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission approved the program Plan in November of 2021 (PUC Docket #5169)
The program starts with your May 2023 meter read. You can check the exact date of your meter read on your electricity bill.
The Town will announce pricing for all CEA options, in March 2023. This will provide you over a month to evaluate whether participation in the CEA program is right for you.
The program affects only the supply portion of your electricity bill; thus the delivery portion of your electricity will remain as before. The utility, Rhode Island Energy (formerly National Grid) manages delivery, which includes maintaining wires and poles and responding to outages.
You will continue to contact your utility, Rhode Island Energy, with any service related issues.
Your electricity bill will continue to come from your utility, Rhode Island Energy. The only change you will notice is the Supplier line and the rate for your chosen electricity product.
Your solar and any Low Income or Budget Billing benefits are unaffected by the program. You will continue to receive them from the Utility.
Yes – the Basic option is a great choice for that.
During program enrollment, you can leave the program by completing the Opt-Out card (included in your Program Notification letter). At the time you receive the card there will be several other ways to leave the program including a website form as well as a telephone number and email.
You will open a new utility account and you will receive a new Customer Notification Letter at your new address, explaining the program and listing program rates. You will be automatically enrolled if you take no action. You can proactively enroll in the aggregation program by using the eventual website or calling the supplier once you have your new utility account.
All of the renewable energy will come from New England. All of the additional renewable energy included for the program will qualify as “RI New”, which come from new sources, located in New England. Much of that additional renewable energy will be provided by the non-profit Green Energy Consumers Alliance.
You can read the Aggregation Plan for the program at:
The program website has a lot of information: https://goodenergy.com/rhode-island/ and keep an eye out for community meetings organized by the Town as the May 2023 approaches.
The Standard product in our CEA program is designed to be cost competitive with the utility’s, Rhode Island Energy, Last Resort Service. The CEA program also offers expanded choice and access: the program’s four electricity supply products are open to any resident or business in the community, regardless of your financial situation, and you can leave the program at any time, without penalty.
Any resident or business in our community can participate and no contract is required.
When the CEA program launches, any electricity customer using Last Resort Service supply from the utility, RI Energy (formerly National Grid), will be eligible for automatic enrollment in the new program. Customers will be provided with an opportunity to opt-out at least 30 days before the program starts. Specifically, all eligible customers will get a Customer Notification Letter (opt out letter) mailed to them in March 2023, with the program starting in May 2023.
Electricity customers who are enrolled with a third-party supplier will not receive the opt-out letter and will not be eligible for automatic enrollment. These customers can voluntarily join the program at any time beginning in May 2023, but should check their current contract with their supplier regarding penalties or early termination fees.
The law requires that the CEA program give all eligible participants at least 30 days to opt-out before the program starts, and once it starts participants can opt-out any time without penalty. Anyone that does not elect to opt-out will be automatically enrolled in the program. The purpose of the opt-out design is to build a large enough group of participants to provide economies of scale for competitive bidding. In this way, the CEA program can give residents and small businesses access to the same kind of buying power as many of the largest electricity users.
The Town voted to launch the program with a standard product that includes 10% additional renewable energy from Rhode Island sources to support the growth of the renewable energy development in New England and speed up our transition to a sustainable future.
This program is designed and overseen by the participating communities, which means we have put the needs of our residents and business first. Many of the other offers you may receive require credit checks to join and have termination penalties to leave. The program has no minimum requirements to join and there is never any penalty to leave or switch products. Also, the additional renewable energy in the program comes from Rhode Island, sourced by a local non-profit Green Energy Consumers Alliance, so we can change the electricity grid here, in New England, and move away from burning fossil fuels. Many offers may source renewable energy from outside or region or not disclose its location.
Check for the Town seal on materials you receive to ensure that you’re getting the correct information.
If you have already sent an e-mail or spoken to a Town Hall staff member and provided your contact information and age, you are already on the list. No further action is required by you, and you will not receive a return phone call unless more information is required. Not leaving all required information may slow the process of being added to the list, though, so make sure you at least leave your full name, date of birth and contact phone number!
Once vaccine doses have been allocated and made available, we will contact those on the eligibility list (from oldest to youngest as available) to register for a vaccine appointment.
Yes, you can! Should you need to cancel or reschedule a vaccine appointment, please do so as soon as the need arises. Cancelations and rescheduling will not change your status with respect to priority. We will work to place you with the next available dosage. If for any reason you cannot make an appointment, please cancel as soon as possible at (401) 643-0323 or (401) 477-2172 so we can provide another senior the appointment slot. We do not want to lose a dose that has a limited shelf life.
CodeRED is an emergency notification service that allows town officials to notify residents and businesses by telephone, cell phone, text message, email and social media of time-sensitive general and emergency notifications. Only authorized officials have access to the CodeRED system.
No. If you signed up for Code Red with the Portsmouth Water & Fire District you are already in the system. You don’t need to do anything more. If you wish to add additional phone numbers or edit your information, you may log in to the account you created when you signed up with Portsmouth Water & Fire District. Your e-mail address is your User Name for your CodeRED account. If you have forgotten your password, CodeRED can e-mail you password reset instructions. If you are using a different e-mail address than the one you used to create the original CodeRED account, you should create a new account using the new e-mail address.
The CodeRED database contains information received from public databases, including regional phone books. However, no resident should assume that their information is in the system. See the "I need to Sign Up for CodeRED. How do I?" FAQ for a link to the CodeRED Community Notification Enrollment page where you can register online. If you can not register online, you can call [1-866-939-0911] and speak with one of our communications specialists to complete your registration over the telephone.
Sign up for CodeRED by clicking here and following the directions on their web site.
CodeRED is a service of Emergency Communications Network which takes security and privacy concerns very seriously. They will not sell, trade, lease or loan any citizen supplied data to third parties.
Any message regarding the safety, property or welfare of the community will be disseminated using the CodeRED system. These may include evacuation notices, boil water advisories or missing child alerts.
A CodeRED Emergency message will have a caller ID of 866-419-5000. A CodeRED General message will have a caller ID 855-969-4636. We suggest you program both numbers in your cell phone as a “new contact” and use “CodeRED Emergency” and “CodeRED General” as the contact name. If you need to replay the emergency notification message again, simply dial the number and you will be able to hear the message again.
Listen carefully to the entire message. You will have the option to repeat the message by pressing any key. Do not call 911 for further information unless directed to do so or if you need immediate aid from the Police or Fire department.
Yes, the CodeRED system will leave a message on a machine or on voicemail. The CodeRED system will leave the entire message in one pass.
Make sure you have at least one working corded telephone – and be sure to turn the ringer on. The CodeRED sign-up form allows you to indicate both a primary and alternate phone number. Cell phone and/or work phone numbers can be entered as alternate phone numbers. Both primary and alternate phone numbers will be contacted when a notification is sent.
If the line is busy, CodeRED will try two more times to connect.
If you are unable to come to the Records Office during the hours of Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., contact the Records Clerk at 401-643-0133 and arrangements can be made to leave a copy at the dispatch desk where it can be picked up at your convenience.
Note: No reports will be mailed unless prior payment has been received and no reports will be faxed. Records Office
Small loads for residents' personal projects only, up to 32-gallons barrel or its equivalent of construction and demolition (C&D) or asphalt, brick and concrete (ABC), may be disposed of in the C&D or ABC bin at the Transfer Station at no charge, once per day. This service is available only to residents with a valid Transfer Station sticker and is for residential C & D and ABC only.
Trailers are not allowed in the Transfer Station.
Any load larger than 32-gallons may be disposed of in the C&D or ABC bin for a $75 fee, once per day. This service is available only to residents with a valid Transfer Station sticker and is for residential C&D and ABC only. In order to dispose of loads larger than 32-gallons, residents are required to pay at the Tax Collector’s office in Town Hall located at 2200 East Main Road between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Friday. Please provide your pass to the Gate Attendant when you arrive at the Transfer Station to dispose of your C&D or ABC. No one-day passes allowed for C&D or ABC.
Examples of acceptable C&D include: • wood (including painted, treated and coated wood and wood products) • wall coverings • plaster • plumbing fixtures • glass • sheetrock/wallboard/drywall (less than 5% in a load, by volume) • non-asbestos insulation • roofing shingles and other roofing coverings • electrical wiring and components containing no hazardous liquids, and pipe and metals that are incidental to any of the above.
C&D loads cannot contain: • garbage • corrugated container board • carpeting • furniture • appliances • tires • items regulated as hazardous waste • asbestos waste • electrical fixtures containing hazardous liquids such as fluorescent light ballasts or transformers for fluorescent lights • 55-gallon drums • fuel tanks.
C&D is not allowed in the compactor pits.
ABC: concrete, asphalt, brick, and rock ONLY and must be free of debris and litter.
The following items require a per item fee and represent the cost to the Town. All fees must be paid at the Tax Collector’s Office prior to going to the Transfer Station. Fees are subject to change.
For emergencies, call 9-1-1.
If there is a problem that requires immediate action (i.e., a loud party at 2:00 a.m.) use the tools the town has always had in place - call the police at (401) 683-0300 to report the problem. But, for example, if you have a neighbor that is renting, but you don't believe he has registered with the town yet, then use the hotline or complaint portal. It all depends on the urgency of the situation.
To contact Host Compliance, call the Hotline at (401) 336-5552. You can also report incidents at the Complaint Portal Link https://safe.hostcompliance.com/tips/route. At the Complaint Portal you can provide full documentation of all incidents, include photos, video footage and sound recordings to document your complaint, and Host Compliance assures real-time outreach to owners of problem properties (whenever the owner's contact info is known)!
If it is an urgent situation, call the Portsmouth Police Department at (401) 683-0300. If it is an emergency, DIAL 911.
Do you rent or lease property for less than 31 days when you are not present in the dwelling? If so, then you need to register as a short-term rental.
The town's registration form is online at https://portsmouthri.viewpointcloud.com. If you do not have access to a computer, come to the Town Clerk's office at Town Hall and use the kiosk to go Viewpoint.
No, the registration fee remains the same the entire calendar year, $130, and is not prorated. The registration fee will is non-refundable.
You will receive a first warning letter asking you to register. The town will give you a second warning letter if you do not comply. If you still refuse to comply, you will then receive a summons to municipal court.
You will need inspections done by the Building Inspector (or his/her designee) and the Fire Marshal. The purpose of the inspections is to determine the occupancy limit of the unit pursuant to § 314-8 of this chapter, to determine if smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors are installed in compliance with the State Fire Code for dwelling units and to determine the number of off-street and on-street parking spaces available. The Building Official or his/her designee shall issue a short-term rental permit stating the maximum occupancy for the dwelling unit.
You are responsible for calling the Building Official (401-683-3611) and the Fire Marshal (401-683-1200) to set the appointments for inspection.
Although there is no time limit designated, you may not rent or lease your dwelling unit until the inspections are complete and you receive a permit from the Building Inspector.
No registrations will be given to any entity owing taxes to the town. You must pay your taxes before you can register and therefore rent your dwelling unit.
NOTE: The issue of proration of real estate taxes at closing is a matter between buyer and seller and is not an issue or concern of the Town.
The Town Clerk is an appointed position.
The Town Clerk is the ex-officio head of the department of Public Records and serves as the Recorder of Deeds; Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths; Clerk of the Probate Court, Clerk of the Municipal Court and Clerk of the Town Council.
To apply for a Variance or a Special Use Permit, fill out Zoning Board Application and return it to the Planning Department. Please review the application carefully; only completed applications will be accepted.
A Zoning Certificate is obtained by filling out an an application and returning it to the Planning Department.
Flood zone mapping can be accessed through the town's GIS. Click the "Layers" icon then check the "Flood Zones Group" box.
Every user of the Transfer Station is required to stop to ensure that all vehicles entering the Transfer Station are doing so at a safe speed.
The Transfer Station check-in agent will perform the following:
The Waste Connections staff present at the Transfer Station is present to assist the Transfer Station users in disposing of their waste and also to ensure the safety of the Transfer Station users.
Although recyclables currently are free to dump at RIRRC, the Town still incurs a cost for the transportation of recyclables to the RIRRC recycling facility in Johnston, RI. That cost is offset by the sticker cost.
Trailers are not allowed in part due to increased likelihood of dumping of yard waste derived from commercial businesses as well as to mitigate concerns over ongoing damage to "the shed" from trailers.
Per the “Transfer Station Application Rules and Regulations” document, the use of a pickup truck does not allow for the hauling of ‘truckloads’ of Construction and Demolition (C&D) debris or Asphalt, Brick, Concrete (ABC) without the purchase of a ‘large load’ (over 32 gallons) permit for $75 at Town Hall.
Seasonal residents that reside in Portsmouth less than half the year will have their vehicles registered in their state of primary residence. In addition, Portsmouth is the temporary home to many of our military personnel. Residents falling in either one of these categories satisfy the “residency requirement” and are eligible to apply for a Transfer Station sticker.
The Transfer Station staff is charged with ensuring that all materials coming into the Transfer Station are placed into its correct container. A failure to correctly divert all materials that can be diverted and the contamination of recyclables directly lead to a higher cost borne by all users of the Transfer Station.
When arriving to the Transfer Station notify the check-in agent to coordinate placing the object outside the “Scrap Metal” bin or request assistance placing inside the “Scrap Metal” bin. This ensures that materials are left in a coordinated location, allows for proper traffic flow, and follows safety procedures.
Per the accepted bid during the 2017 selection process, each additional contracted employee to cover all the hours of operation of the Transfer Station would cost $85K annually:
To allow for maximum flexibility and offer a competitive price, the town contracts out the residential solid waste/recycling/diversion items per the triennial bidding process. The last bid was accepted in late 2017.
RIRRC asks for cardboard to be flattened (cut down pieces to less than 3 feet by 5 feet by 1 foot).
In addition, to allow the RIRRC Single Stream recycling machine to more efficiently process recyclables, RIRRC requests paper to remain flat (i.e., do not bunch up into balls), and to keep paper sheets intact (i.e., do not rip up into tiny pieces).
Sensitive documents can be disposed of at community “Shred-it” events held periodically throughout the year.
Insurance requirements of the town do not allow us to have scavenging of any material at the Transfer Station. This includes the “Give and Take” area.
Safety is a top priority and so it was decided to correct this potential safety issue of folks exiting their vehicles and walking around the Transfer Station. Additionally, this contributes to traffic backup.
We do ask that if someone has something they would want to reuse that they donate it to a local charitable organization or give away free via the private Facebook group “Aquidneck Island Families Sell and Swap,” the free section of Criagslist.org, or to charitable organizations, of which several examples are listed below:
The PAYT town bags can be recycled via the plastic bag “Restore” program available at multiple local retailers or they can be given to a grateful fellow resident. The PAYT town bags themselves are not to be placed in the Single Stream recycling “pit” as they will cause issues with the Single Stream sorter at RIRRC. The PAYT town bags are made up of 30% recyclable material.
The producer of PAYT bags, Waste Zero, only sells the bags in bulk quantities to retailers, so the Town is unable to keep a few boxes either at Town Hall or the Transfer Station to sell individual boxes or bags.
The best way to generalize the Transfer Station Sticker and the PAYT bag revenue is that the annual stickers cover the fixed costs (overhead, personnel, etc.) while the PAYT bags cover the variable costs (transportation and tipping fees).
In an effort to reduce the sticker price for those residents who generated smaller amounts of trash, the PAYT program was adopted where all Transfer Station users paid a lower base price and the remainder of the per user cost was applied via a progressive funding mechanism – the households that generated more solid waste would pay more akin to a utility bill. PAYT bag revenue is a funding mechanism and is simply a way to help spread the cost of trash disposal in a fairer way.
In summary the PAYT bags serve two important purposes:
ECONOMIC: The Town receives the majority of the monies earned from the sale of every bag and this money is automatically deposited for the Town and enters into the Town’s Transfer Station Enterprise Fund. This money, along with the money from the sale of Transfer Station stickers, helps fund the cost of operating the Town Transfer Station including but not limited to transportation costs and RIRRC “tipping fees” paid per ton of solid waste.
ENVIRONMENTAL: The use of PAYT bags has demonstrated outstanding reductions in the tonnage of solid waste being disposed of at the Transfer Station. Since PAYT was initiated, Portsmouth has seen an approximately 50% reduction in solid waste disposal and doubling of the recycling rate!
The PAYT paradigm monetarily incentivizes residents to educate themselves on recycling and diversion. Additional ways to reduce the amount of household solid waste (to reduce PAYT costs) include but are not limited to:
Before shipping, Transfer Station staff compacts yard waste. The pit is cleared of the original material inside it (loaded inside a container for shipping to RIRRC facility) then yard waste is deposited for compacting as part of a process of loading it into a container to be brought to RIRRC’s facility. Compacting yard waste directly reduces the amount of trips to RIRRC, which in turn saves the Town money.
The Transfer Station policy regarding tarps must balance convenience, liability, and overall safety and flow of operations for all users of the Transfer Station. Open containers (such as a tarp) make it difficult to control the yard waste debris. Spills occur that would require continuous clean-up by Transfer Station staff, drawing them away from other responsibilities. There also exists the possibility of a larger item, like a large branch or small stump, falling out of a tarp and another resident tripping over loose items. All yard waste shall be transported to the Transfer Station contained in a reusable box or barrel, or in yard bags (which can be filled via a Leaf Chute ®).
Yard Waste is not intended for food compost! It is intended for grass clippings, brush, and plant debris. Fruits, vegetables, and other food items from gardens attract pests. There are several local composting initiatives and compost bins are available from the Tax Collector’s Office at Town Hall for $45 each.
No. RIRRC (state landfill) does not accept any yard waste loads with branches larger than 2 inches in diameter.
If composting is not a feasible option for stumps and larger tree limbs, local landscaping and tree services can provide wood chipping and stump grinding services. Additionally, the RIRRC facility in Johnston, RI accepts tree stumps if placed in the “Stump Container.”
The Town continues to receive reports from Transfer Station staff of unusual C&D/ABC dumping habits. In order to discourage commercial businesses from using the Transfer Station to dispose of construction debris, more stringent requirements are necessary. Commercial users dumping C&D/ABC which is not derived from personal household projects are externalizing their business-related disposal costs onto the other Transfer Station sticker holders.
There is the option to purchase additional C&D/ABC passes from Town Hall, and additionally, residents can review commercial options as listed in the "Dumpster/junk removal" classifieds of local newspapers.
RIRRC has stood up an A-Z portal where “oddball” items, or any item, can be queried for how to dispose of them:
For 2018, Portsmouth has defined “bulky waste” as consisting of household furniture (pillows removed) that could not fit in a PAYT bag. The items in the “Bulky Waste” bin are eventually compacted in the solid waste pit.
The “Bulky Waste” bin is provided as a convenience, but is often a source of confusion. It has been reported by Transfer Station staff that residents throw in items that are large, but could fit into PAYT bags (e.g. basketballs, cushions, pillows, and suitcases). More alarmingly, it has been reported that it appears commercial businesses (e.g., realtors, trash removal services, etc.) that empty houses of furniture are abusing the “Bulky Waste” bin under the guise of being ordinary residential users of the Transfer Station.
Any item disposed as bulky waste adds to the tonnage (RIRRC tipping fees) and transportation costs. As a comparable, Middletown offers residents participating in their curbside PAYT program quarterly bulky waste “amnesty days,” otherwise fees are assessed for various bulky waste items:
In Portsmouth, most of the items listed at the above URL can be diverted (toilets, bicycles, appliances, wood, clean mattress/box spring, etc). can all be diverted for free to ABC, scrap metal, appliances, C&D, and finally mattresses, respectively.
There is a container for disposing of used motor oil before entering the Transfer Station shed.
Most automotive parts contain hazardous (liquid or solid) waste and cannot be disposed of at the Transfer Station!
Hazardous waste must be disposed of via the RIRRC Eco-Depot program. Appointments can be scheduled by calling (401) 942-1430 (extension 241) or via the form at the following URL:
If the item is scrap metal (including nuts and bolts) and free of hazardous (liquid or solid waste), please place in the “Scrap Metal” bin. Otherwise, the item should be placed in PAYT bags (bushings, rubber hoses, bumper claddings, etc.).
Short answer, it depends!
If not other disposal or recycling method is available, single-use batteries can be placed in a PAYT bag.
Automotive batteries can be dropped off at the Transfer Station but we ask that you inform Transfer Station personnel beforehand. Automotive batteries incur a core fee when purchased which is refundable when the old battery is exchanged. In addition, any lead-acid battery can be brought to Wal-Mart free of charge:
Rechargeable (e.g., nickel metal hydride [NiMH or Ni–MH], nickel-cadmium [NiCd or NiCad]), and lithium batteries are considered hazardous waste.
Hzardous waste must be disposed of via the RIRRC Eco-Depot program. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 401-942-1430 (extension 241) or via the form at the following URL:
Large, flexible items, like a trampoline or a boat cover, can cause the Transfer Station compactor to jam which leads to downtime and unexpected maintenance costs. Such items shall be cut up and placed into a PAYT bag. Any solid components are recommended to be stripped and placed into their respective diversion containers (e.g. metal from a trampoline into the “Scrap Metal” bin).
The items in the bulky waste container are placed in the compactor pits before shipment to RIRRC. Large, flexible items such as carpets have been demonstrated to jam the compactor at the bottom of the solid waste “pit.”
Because of this, we ask that all residents conform to RIRRC guidance regarding carpets and cut carpets into 3 foot by 3 foot lengths and tie them before placing them into the “Bulky Waste” bin. If left untied, carpets will unfurl and jam the compactor pits.
No. Carpet pads often break apart and can create quite a mess! For this reason, carpet pads must be placed into a PAYT bag for disposal.
Fluorescent light bulbs contain highly toxic mercury and must be disposed of via alternative means. In addition to Eco-Depot, there are several local options for safe disposal:
1) Home Depot accepts compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) but not tubes:
2) There are several local hardware stores that accept CFLs and fluorescent light tubes. It is advisable to call beforehand to ensure space in their fluorescent light bins:
If possible, it is recommended to donate or sell furniture. As a last resort, remove pillows (if applicable) and place in a PAYT bag. The remainder of the household furniture shall be placed in the “Bulky Waste” container.
NO! Plastic bags are consistently the most common contaminant and can cause complete shutdown of the RIRRC single stream recycling machines. An overview of their operations is detailed in the following video:
Plastic bags can be recycled by bringing them to local retailers that participate in the “Restore” program. This program uses marked blue boxes (usually at the front of a store) where a person can put their plastic bags so that they are recycled. Any plastic that is “stretchy” can be recycled via the “Restore” program, otherwise it will need to be placed in a PAYT bag.
For more information regarding acceptable plastic films for the “Restore” bins watch:
Mattress and box spring disposal is free for Portsmouth residents with a Transfer Station sticker if:
NOTE: This program does not include: • mattress pads/toppers • sleeping bags • pillows • car beds • mattresses smaller than twin size • water beds • air mattresses • fold-out sofa beds • futons. If possible, these items should be cut up and placed into PAYT bags, or otherwise disposed of as bulky waste.
RI Public Law 2013-423 set up the Rhode Island Mattress Recycling Program for Municipalities:
The name of the organization that establishes the collection criteria is called “The Mattress Recycling Council (MRC).” They work in conjunction with a company that is called ‘Mattress Express” who deliver the mattresses. It is this company that inspects the material and who insist on exacting standards.
There are alternatives for mattress and/or box spring disposal. Give away new or gently used mattress and box springs in the "FREE" section of Craigslist.org, FreeCycle.org, or “Aquidneck Island Families Sell & Swap” on Facebook.
Anyone may bring mattresses and box springs to Ace Mattress Recycling (free of charge) or to Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). Learn more by calling the RIRRC scale house at 401-942-1430, ext. 101.
A resident can still divert the mattress and/or box spring but they would need to “break it down” to its respective components. For example, a dirty mattress can be cut open and the springs removed and placed into the “Scrap Metal” bin, plastic cladding and padding stripped and placed in PAYT bag(s), and any wood from box springs can also be stripped and placed in the “C&D bin” (charges may apply if over 32 gallons of C&D).
The $70 fee is the cost that that is assessed to the town by RIRRC for any soiled or wet mattress or box spring disposed of at the State landfill.
After examining multiple 3-year bid proposals for curbside pickup and continued operation of the Transfer Station, the Town Council decided on October 10, 2017 to utilize the Transfer Station as the Town’s residential solid waste/recycling option through 2020.
Therefore, the Town does not offer curbside trash collection, however, curbside pickup is available for a fee from private haulers. Recycling has been mandatory in Rhode Island since 1996:
The Transfer Station sticker fee is the primary funding mechanism for the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund to pay for the cost of disposing of waste.
The fee schedule has increased over time as the RIRRC seeks to extend the life of the landfill.
It is NOT an option to throw away your trash for free! There is a local littering ordinance and a very strict state littering law:
Trash disposal was removed from the tax base in the 2006 timeframe as a large number of residents that utilized curbside pickup argued they were being effectively “double charged” for a trash disposal mechanism that they could not or did not wish to utilize. A Transfer Station Enterprise Fund was set up to fund operations associated with residential solid waste/recycling and diversion.
Folding the costs of trash disposal into the Town’s budget would mean all high priority budget items would be knocked out as RI law dictates that the municipal tax levy may not be increased 4% year over year:
If you purchase your Transfer Station sticker at the Tax Collector's office at Town Hall, you have the option of paying by cash, check, money order, or credit card. Please note: if you choose to pay by credit card, the credit card company will charge you a fee. The Town receives no compensation for fees charged. If you purchase your Transfer Station sticker by mail, please pay by check or money order.
No. Please note that it is anticipated that the property tax exemptions already available to the elderly and other special situation taxpayers are considered sufficient to provide fairness to those individual taxpayers.
The Town Council approves the recommended fee developed by Town staff roughly 1-2 months before the “new sticker year.” The fee is established by projecting the minimum user fee to fully fund the Transfer Station Enterprise Fund for the upcoming year. All Transfer Station sticker fees (and PAYT revenue) is deposited in a town-managed Transfer Station Enterprise Fund to provide the money needed to pay for the Town’s solid waste and recycling program.
Due to multiple sources of information (RIRRC, our selected Transfer Station operator Waste Connections [formerly Vinagro], the Recycling Coordinator, the Town's website, Rules document, rumors around Town, etc.) inconsistencies and misinformation can develop.
In addition, there are market trends and polices and rules dictated to the Town (and sometimes state and federal authorities) over which the Town has no control. For example, in the past year China has clamped down on “contaminated” recyclables, now rejecting any loads with more than 0.5% contamination (formerly 5%)..
Mattresses and box spring collections were defined by RI Law 2013-423 and the fee for soiled mattresses or box springs was raised from $50 to $70 in the middle of 2018.
That being said, the Town, Town Council, and the Solid Waste Recycling Committee (SWRC) is continually working to ensure that the numerous informational sources are in harmony and do not contradict each other.
The Town Council formed the Solid Waste Recycling Committee (SWRC). Its mission is to increase the recycling/diversion rate, review problems and develop solutions that are recommended to the Town Council.
The SWRC also helps create an Annual Report that assists in developing town policy and budgets relating to solid waste disposal and recycling.
The SWRC meets the second Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Portsmouth Room, Town Hall:
SWRC meetings are open to the public, and agenda and minutes may be reviewed at:
Please contact the Department of Public Works who will forward the communication to the appropriate channel(s). The Department of Public Works' contact information (Email and telephone number: 401-683-0382) is always posted in the left-hand sidebar at:
Prudence Island has constraints due to a different Transfer Station operator (Lawrence) and a year round population of roughly 150 residents. The scope of island trash services is defined by the bid selected:
The PAYT program is intended to financially incentivize event organizers to divert and compost waste from their events. Allowing exceptions to PAYT creates a “slippery slope” that undercuts the spirit of implementing PAYT.
The selected bid does not include yard waste. To allow for proper oversight, yard waste disposal at the DPW facility must match the hours of the Prudence Island Transfer Station.